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FAU Owls vs Buffalo Bulls Game Preview

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Can the Owls avenge 2015’s embarrassing defeat?

Florida Atlantic v Wisconsin Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

Date: Saturday September 23, 2017

Kickoff Time: 7:00 PM ET

Location: Buffalo, New York, at University at Buffalo Stadium

Streaming: ESPN 3

Line: FAU +3

Series Record: Buffalo leads the all-time series 1-0 and won the last meeting in 2015 33-15.


Outlook

FAU is coming off of their first win of the Lane Kiffin era as the Owls defeated Bethune-Cookman 45-0 last week. It was the best performance we’ve seen from the Owls in quite some time and eased some concerns about whether FAU is truly a talented team.

This week FAU will have the chance to test their mental toughness as they will have to travel to Buffalo to take on a Bulls team that crushed them two years ago in Boca Raton.

The Bulls were carried by their defense that day and enters this year’s matchup expecting another great defensive performance as the Bulls are allowing just 16 points per game this season. Looking at Buffalo’s defensive footprint is a bit weird as the Bulls don’t have a single unit that causes a ton of disruption as they are 99th or worse in each Havoc Rate category. However, they are the best in the country at Passing Downs Run Rate and second best at Standard Downs Rate.

Due to playing Minnesota and Army, the Bulls have seen their fair amount of rushing plays. They rank 105th in Rushing Success Rate but have been good at not allowing explosive running plays as they rank 31st in Rushing IsoPPP. Essentially the Bulls are a bend but don’t break defense.

Offensively the Bulls are similar to FAU in that they are at their best when running the ball. Johnathan Hawkins and Emmanuel Reed have combined for 260 yards this year with a touchdown apiece. Buffalo head coach Lance Leipold will test FAU’s rushing defense for sure.

Quarterback Tyree Jackson isn’t much of a passer as he’s completed just 54% percent of his passes for 588 yards and three touchdowns with one interception. However, he’s going to be an issue when he’s a ball carrier as he’s listed at 6'7, 245 pounds! Jackson leads the Bulls with 211 rushing yards and two touchdowns.

Predicition

I hate to sound like a snob but I’m embracing the full #LetsBeJerks motto for this game. The Owls are more talented, have played like the better team, and have a higher ceiling. On paper, they are honestly flat out better than Buffalo. Just hand the ball off to Devin Singletary and Greg Howell, let our offensive line eat, and the Owls will be in great shape to come away with a win.

The fact that Buffalo is the favorite is crazy to me. Buffalo is ranked 122nd by S&P+. The Owls are ranked 88th. S&P+ is giving FAU a 77 percent chance at winning this game straight up.

I know the Owls have burned us before and have played down to their competition but last week was the first time FAU thoroughly dominated a team they were supposed to. This team has really improved week-by-week under Lane Kiffin and I see that continuing this Saturday. Being that the game is at night and in Buffalo and we are a team from Florida, it’s worth mentioning that the weather temperature is expected to be around the 60s.

What I’m saying is that the weather should by no means affect our Owls. In Choosing C-USA I said FAU would win by a touchdown and that’s mainly due to the fact that it’s a road game and there is some caution to be taken as Buffalo has looked decent on defense. But FAU should win. No question. A loss here likely ends any hopes of a bowl game.

FAU 28 Buffalo 21